To ensure the turbines keep generating power, the wind farm needs on-going maintenance from a highly skilled team with varying technical disciplines working in close co-operation. From 2013-2021, this team was based in Wind Farm Place at Egmere, just outside Wells-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk, but in September 2021 it moved to the Equinor Operations and Maintenance Hub in Great Yarmouth
The Sheringham Shoal O&M team shares a purpose-built building on the Great Yarmouth river harbour quayside with colleagues servicing the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm (www.dudgeonoffshorewind.co.uk). As well as a modern office facility, the Equinor O&M Hub includes a large warehouse used for storage of equipment and spare parts needed to maintain the two wind farms.
A sophisticated control room is at the heart of the Equinor O&M Hub which overseas all monitoring and logistics for the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm and the Hywind Scotland project, which comprises 5 floating wind turbines off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland. Located at the control room is a sophisticated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which monitors the wind farm on a 24/7 basis.
When the Sheringham Shoal O&M team was based at Wind Farm Place, the turbine technicians would travel to and from the wind farm on a daily basis on Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs), sailing from the Outer Harbour of the port town of Wells-next-the-Sea.
Since relocating to Great Yarmouth, the wind farm is now serviced by the ‘Esvagt Njord’ Service Operations Vessel (SOV), which has been providing a highly successful service to the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm since 2016.
The vessel, which is 83.7m long and 17.6m wide, provides 58 cabins to accommodate the vessel crew and the wind farm maintenance technicians. It spends two weeks at the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farm sites and then returns to the Equinor O&M Hub in Great Yarmouth for crew change and stock replenishment.
The vessel features the Uptime Walk-to-Work gangway system to enable technicians to easily access the wind turbines. This offers greatly improved levels of safety.
The SOV is supported by CTVs which can operate from the Equinor O&M Hub pontoons, based in Great Yarmouth’s river harbour.
The turbine technicians are responsible for the maintenance of the wind farm’s 88 Siemens 3.6MW wind turbines.
The primary role of this team is safe and efficient maintenance to ensure that the turbines can operate to their maximum capacity at all times.
As well as taking care of any corrective maintenance that may be required from time to time, the team undertakes a full service of each turbine on an annual basis.